News / Americas

At Chavez's Birthplace, Maduro Vows to Win Venezuela Vote

Venezuela's acting president and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro (C) at a campaign rally in state of Barinas, April 2, 2013.
Venezuela's acting president and presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro (C) at a campaign rally in state of Barinas, April 2, 2013.
Reuters
Venezuelan acting President Nicolas Maduro made a pilgrimage to late socialist leader Hugo Chavez's birthplace on Tuesday and pledged to win the April 14 election in his honor.
       
"We regard Chavez as our father. He marked our life, that's why we came here to make an oath in the land of his birth that we will never let him down,'' Maduro, 50, said in the village of Sabaneta where his former boss was born.
       
"I am going to be president of this country because he ordered it,'' Maduro added at the launch of his formal election campaign before the oil-producing South American nation's presidential poll.
       
Opinion polls give Maduro, a former bus driver who rose to be Chavez's foreign minister and vice president, a formidable lead of between 11 and 20 percentage points over opposition challenger Henrique Capriles.
       
Tuesday marked the start of a lightning 10-day campaign period, although both candidates already had started trying to court voters. The ballot will be the country's first without Chavez after more than a dozen during his 14-year rule.
       
The burly and mustachioed Maduro is benefiting from the personal blessing of Chavez, who named him as his preferred heir three months before dying of cancer on March 5.
       
That endorsement, in Chavez's last public speech, stopped in-fighting over the succession within the ruling Socialist Party and transformed Maduro's status in the eyes of his mentor's passionate supporters.
       
"He is the only candidate who guarantees national independence and can achieve the historic objectives that were set by our commander,'' said Cynthiq Nouel, a 29-year-old resident of Sabaneta.
       
Maduro also has a well-financed state apparatus behind him, working-class credentials that play well with loyal 'Chavista' supporters, and the goodwill of millions who have benefited from Chavez's oil-funded social welfare projects, or "missions.'' Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves.
       
Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles at campaign rally in Caracas, April 1, 2013Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles at campaign rally in Caracas, April 1, 2013
x
Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles at campaign rally in Caracas, April 1, 2013
Venezuela's opposition leader and presidential candidate Henrique Capriles at campaign rally in Caracas, April 1, 2013
Capriles is a centrist state governor who wants to roll back the economic nationalizations and political polarization of the Chavez era in favor of a Brazilian-style model of free markets with strong welfare spending.
       
He was launching his campaign in the oil-producing eastern state of Monagas on Tuesday. Opposition strategists are hoping the "sympathy'' effect over Chavez's death will wear off, giving Capriles a fighting chance if he focuses voters' attention on their myriad daily problems, from potholes to power cuts.
      
Capriles Lampoons Maduro

Capriles, 40, vows to keep Chavez's "missions,'' though he plans to staff them with Venezuelans instead of the more than 40,000 Cuban workers who poured into the country under Chavez.
       
"With Henrique Capriles, from April 14 all Venezuelans will earn more, eat better and sleep peacefully,'' his campaign director Carlos Ocariz said at an event in Caracas to launch the formal campaign.

Capriles is promising to raise the minimum salary by 40 percent to counter the impact of a recent devaluation, diversify the economy away from oil, and combat crime levels that ballooned during Chavez's rule.
       
He lampoons Maduro as an incompetent official trying pathetically to imitate Chavez.
       
Maduro's visit to Sabaneta on Tuesday was a recreation of Chavez's successful presidential re-election bid last year, when he began a series of rallies in the village.
       
Accompanied by family members and political leaders, Maduro and others told stories about Chavez - recalling, for example, how he used to sell sweets on the local streets.
       
Shaded by mango trees in the garden of the humble home where Chavez was raised by his grandmother, musicians played his favorite "llanera'' songs from the Venezuelan plains that inspired much of his rhetoric and ideas.
       
"Nicolas Maduro will be elected on April 14 by the majority of our people to continue accelerating the revolution,'' said Chavez's elder brother, Adan, alongside Maduro.
       
They admired a tree planted by Chavez that is named "Revolution,'' and another named "Rebellion'' that was planted by Bolivian President Evo Morales on a previous visit to the house by the two Latin American leftist leaders and friends.
       
Though Maduro looks on course to win the vote, he faces a tough task beyond April 14 putting state finances back in order after blowout election-year spending in 2012 and balancing a disparate coalition that for years was kept in line by Chavez's strong personality.
       
So far, the campaign has been characterized by personal attacks and claims of dirty tricks by both sides. Local media coverage has illustrated the deep political differences.
       
Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said journalists had to act responsibly and the authorities must apply the laws impartially. "It is time to leave behind the polarization, with constant insults and vilification, that has dominated the media landscape for so long,'' it said.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Vazquez Is Favorite to Win Uruguay Presidential Vote

Leftist ruling party candidate buoyed by widespread affection for country's outgoing leader, strong economic growth
More

Brazil's Rousseff Struggles to Limit Petrobras Scandal's Damage

President expects bribery scandal at state-run oil company to deteriorate in coming months, aides say, with arrests possible for some political allies
More

Mexico, Central America Hail Obama's Immigration Reform

Mexican leader calls US president's proposals 'most important measures taken in several decades'
More

Torturers of Chilean President's Father Sentenced to Jail

Judge sentences 2 retired colonels to prison for committing 'crime of torture resulting in the death' of Alberto Bachelet Martinez during early days of Pinochet dictatorship
More

NYC Immigrant Advocates Praise Obama Move, Vow to Continue Fight

Threatened refusal by Republican congressional leaders to cooperate will backfire politically, attorney insists
More

Obama's Immigration Action: What It All Means

Attorney Camille Mackler is director of legal initiatives at advocacy group New York Immigration Coalition, and she discusses specifics of the action
More